BUTTE — After just four months of having two flights out of the Butte airport, officials here say they have to temporarily suspend their flights to Denver by this summer due to a shortage in pilots.
“Unfortunately, we’re disappointed as of July 1 it’s going to discontinue, temporarily. And hopefully it will come back sooner than later,” said Bert-Mooney Airport Assistant Manager Rick Ryan.
SkyWest informed the Bert-Mooney Airport recently that it needs to stop its daily United Express flight from Butte to Denver by July.
During the pandemic, the larger air services lost many pilots to early retirement, which has created a vacuum for pilots across the industry.
“So what they typically do then is recruit younger pilots from smaller airlines, regional carriers that bump up and go to the mainline carriers and that has happened and now that’s creating a severe shortage and lack pilots with all the smaller air carriers that serve the communities like Butte,” said Ryan.
The airport will continue its daily Delta flight from Butte to Salt Lake City.
“So we urge people to continue to support the Butte airport, continue to fly SkyWest and Delta Airline down to Salt Lake,” said Ryan.
Bert-Mooney officials don’t know how long they’re going to be without this Denver flight, and it could affect staffing here at the airport.
“We’re getting ready for our upcoming budget and stuff and all of that stuff will be addressed here in the near future,” he said.
Butte received its Denver flight in January as part of a three-year contract with the Essential Air Service program.
The deal calls for 13 weekly round-trip flights to Denver and Salt Lake City.
This was the first time Butte had more than one daily flight in 15 years.